Bradford Pears – Winter Pruning

Q: Can Bradford pears be safely trimmed in November? These are 20-year-old trees which were trimmed three years ago.

A: Pruning Bradford pear trees is a great winter job. You can see the limb structure of the tree after leaves have dropped and correct the structural faults this problematic tree develops. First to go are the thin vertical limbs in the center of the tree. They provide few blooms and impede air circulation through the foliage. Next out are the bigger limbs that are spaced closer than twelve inches apart along the main trunk. When choosing between two limbs, keep the one that grows more horizontally. Apply the “three-cut technique” to avoid tearing off bark below the limb. Use two cuts to remove the majority of the limb, then make a final slice just beyond the swollen limb collar where it emerges from the tree trunk.